Dragon Age 4 (expectations and desires)


no more mages = minorities shit. that direct parallel is terrible. you have city elves and casteless dwarves and they make a better parallel than a group of people that are justifiably feared within the world b/c they’re ticking time bombs at worst and can kill you with a look at best. don’t try to make parallels to real disenfranchised groups using people who have magical powers. bad.

speaking of dwarves, more stories for the dwarves because that was literally the strongest writing in Origins and everything else about dwarves has been a disappointment since.

better combat. better customization options for how your character fights. Talent trees are all well and good, and they worked in Origins, but that game also let me have a tank that dual-wielded swords and axes, so bring that level of customization back.

no more war table, which made it far too easy to miss important stuff, and made it difficult to progress b/c of the anxiety around missing something crucial. if you’re gonna do war table, limit it by either limiting the number of missions allowed before the story progresses (giving the game more replayability), or make it purely about gathering resources. i fucking hated the war table.

limit on collectibles. holy shit. holy shit. You had constellation puzzles, shards, and flags? absolutely not. pick 1 and link the flags to how you uncover the map. bam. done.

bring back healing and also make a tanking system that’s less complete and absolute dogshit. i have never had less fun playing a tank class. jesus christ.

Bioware excels when it comes to telling a story about a small group of people trying to tackle an immense threat and gathering up to do that. Both Mass Effect 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition were the weakest of their games for me, and it feels like that’s because they moved the strategy parts of their game away from combat and dialogue choices, and into trying to collect enough resources and allies on a grand scale, rather than trying to build your team. I appreciate that they tried something new, but it doesn’t feel like it worked with either IP, so like… Please don’t.


As a corollary to the point about healing/tanking:

If you’re going to bring healing back, please give us more than one potential healer! Every single party configuration I used in Dragon Age II revolved around bloody Anders, 'cause he was the only character you had for most of the game who could heal at all, unless you yourself were playing as a support mage.

I dunno if I just wasn’t creative enough to come up with a good party build that didn’t need a healer? Seriously, it felt like they might as well have just removed a party slot and given it to Anders in perpetuity with how dependent my party was on him.


The healer problem has been a design issue plaguing role playing games for a very long time. I think that Dragon Age Inquisition was trying to address this problem, but I think it ultimately made the game worse for not having a healing spell.


genuine question: why is not having a healing spell worse?


I’m not sure if not having them is the worst thing ever, but the potion system was shit. I don’t remember a lot about DA:I, so correct me if I’m wrong, but a system where you start out with a limited amount of heals that the whole party has to share is just Not Good imo. Healing spells are only limited by mana, which is usually a pretty big pool, making them a lot less finite than potions in basically every way (supplies needed, availability, possibly to improve, etc.)

While I’m against the idea of making a character that specializes in healing, I don’t think there’s much remiss about wanting a single spell that works off percentage in regards to healing potency, which you can then just teach to every mage you have with little negative drawback aside from missing out on picking something else until you level again.


Seeing people complaining about the existence of healing spells is on the same level of absurd to me as Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments banning Pot of Greed and Monster Reborn. All of this just sort of struck me from left field and I have no idea how this even became a thing of debate.


I agree with you on everything on that list tbh.

I would also love it if they would lay off the “elves are a sophisticated allegory for, uh,” * [spins wheel] “jewish, romani, and indigenous people, all at once, but also OHO, they’re their own worst enemies and the True Elves hate them”

It’s such a bad take! Especially with Sera’s plot in dai- I was really excited for a romanceable lesbian elf, but she was really obviously written by a straight white man imo. I think this has been mentioned before in much better articles, but I hate how people can take the trappings of cultures experiencing horrific oppression, and then just put it in as a side plot and dilute with “oh actually it’s debatable whether this is their fault or not ;)”.

And with the convo in dai where Dorian pulls the “slavery is bad, but at least it’s better than being POOR” argument… and your pc can’t respond in any way… I don’t want to be pessimistic, and maybe given more development time they can polish the writing, but I don’t want to play the next game set in Tevinter if this is the type of content it’s going to have.


i don’t know anything about this franchise but i hope they let you marry a dragon


I really like the conversation about the racial/ethinic elements of Dragon Age.

I actually love how the game tries to handle that stuff. As a black person the time I felt most off-put was when Sera seemed to keep belittling the experiences of the Dalish elves. She would even distinguish between “good” elves and “bad” elves by how much they conformed to Human city life. There was also the time when adventuring, Solas attempts to speak Dalish to her and she mocked the language. I really liked how the game made me disslike a character, not because I was supposed to, but because my own life’s experiences played a role. I think that speaks to the depth of the writing. ( I also grew to appreciate Sera though I disagreed with her politics. To me thats another sign of good writing)

I don’t think there is much of a correlation between mages and “minorities”, mostly because in Dragon Age every “race” can be a mage. Different cultures/ states (Teventer and Qanari) treat mages differently. Teventer is ran by mages, there they represent the elite class. Dorian described how peasants pray that their children will be born a mage, and that how having mage blood is a valuable asset in Teventer.
I don’t think its good to quickly assume that any downtrodden class in a piece of fiction has to relate directly back to specific minority groups in reality. (Though it is true, I very much relate to the Elves.lol)

Dorian’s slave talk was indeed rough. The characters in DA are more realistic then in most video games. They do and say things you dont like, and that’s really cool. Dorian definitely disappointed me but his position made absolute sense for his character. There was truth in what he said when he questioned if being a slave in Teventir was worse than being poor and destitute in Ferelden (or one of the other regions) ?
I like that argument because it kind of smacks neo-liberal absolutism in the face. It’s easy to say things are bad elsewhere, but usually thats done while overlooking similar issues in your own backyard. lol I don’t live in Thedas so I don’t know the answer but I appreciate the depth of the world and the scenarios it contains.

Either way I think its a good conversation, and I love how Bioware lets me be a black and see tons of black faces throughout their worlds. Also its one of the only games that allow you to make a "black elf or dwarf:. I showed my friend who doesn’t have much RPG experience outside of JRPGs and it literally made his day. He bought the game, mostly because of that. I don’t think allot of people realize how impactful representation can be.


My thing with the mages is that though they may not be a direct one for one parallel to any specific group of oppressed people, I dislike the entire narrative surrounding them in Thedas and Orlais. The games following Origins and Awakening have decided to focus in on this under the lens of their rebellion from the Chantry, but at the same time try to push the narrative of “oh but there’s valid reasons people want to lock them in towers and lobotomize them if they don’t pass some arbitrary test fast enough”, which harkens back to the way people in the real world pull this sort of shit on various other oppressed and disenfranchised individuals (e.g. not letting queer people adopt because we’re “bad influences”, the myth of hyper violent black/latino men, etc). It’s really weird to me that Dragon Age as a franchise has gone in on this so hard when the answer to “Hey is subjugating an entire group of people based on a myth okay?” is pretty dang obvious.

And while mages can be of any “race” within the world of the game, if anything that actually puts them at different cross-sections of in-world bullshittery. Dalish Elves revere their mages but they still get sent off to the Towers like City Elf mages do if the Templars find them, and they’re treated poorly both because they’re an elf and a mage. Qunari mages are straight up brutalized (i.e. Ketojan).

Like, to each their own, but it’s my opinion that trying to push this narrative as hard as they have has not only made the game more unlikeable for me personally, but limited their story in a massive way. Unless I play an Elf Mage, there’s almost nothing for me in Dragon Age: Inquisition, for instance. Literally the most story in the game is in that direction. I played a Dwarf Warrior, and that game had absolutely jack dick to offer me.


At this point I wouldn’t mind if we got something similar to Inquisition. It had its flaws but I still had a very good time with it. I’d rather have a single-player game like that again than some variation of multi-player.
Origins is still my favorite game of the series but I don’t think we’re gonna see the things I loved about it in any AAA title again any time soon. (I don’t need a fully voiced PC if you give me twice the dialogue choices to actually let me express what I want to say!)

On a narrative level I’d love to see more dwarf and qunari content. Inquisition was such an elf game. Also less of that grey morality “maybe everyone is actually shitty if you think about it” stuff.

But after Andromeda I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about DA4. Not because of the game quality or EA shenanigans but because of the public’s reaction to the game. I can’t shake the feeling that there are some people already frothing at the mouth at the opportunity to tear the next Bioware game to shreds. Andromeda wasn’t a great game and I hate buggy or unfinished releases as much as everyone but I still believe it wouldn’t have bombed so terribly if it hadn’t been for that mass hysteria during the EA Access phase. I would hate to see something similar happen to the next Dragon Age game.


I’m divided on how mages are used myself. I relate to a lot of the stuff in there, and I like that Origins lets you actually be yourself and break from an awful system and just really enjoy it and even help change things from the outside. I really liked the whole story with the blood mage you meet again in the child possession portion in Origins if you picked a mage background, where you can be the first person to actually give the clearly confused and scared guy a chance to do something with his knowledge.

But Bioware is also historically bad at dealing with topics like these because they always default back to trying to A) find a middle ground or B) hypocritically preach non-violent resistance in games where you slaughter people by the truckload. They also have a ton of blind spots of their own. Remember when Mass Effect 2, a game in a series that glorifies colonial expansion and the military, took swipes at airport security post 9/11 and your Shepard could call it fascist? POT, KETTLE.

I actually have trouble believing Origins was their game outside the City Elf stuff because the majority of it was really well written, and the eyebrow moments were mainly in small NPC convos. Like, every single party member (even bleh Alistair) had an interesting perspective born from their background and their own particular suffering by not fitting social norms. All of their stories personally spoke to me, especially how each of them came to different conclusions you could take something from. The only other RPG series to really pull of something like that for me were the Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun games.

But there is absolutely no defending any of the city elf stuff holy shit.


So people were prejudging the game and “frothing at the mouth”, and it had a buggy, unfinished release? If Andromeda had been more polished (or if the writing had been good enough to offset those bugs), there wouldn’t have been a negative backlash. Go listen to the Waypoint interview with Manveer Heir, or read Jason Schreier’s account of Andromeda’s development. This was a game made by people who didn’t respect their customers or their own product, and they got exactly what they deserved. If they pull it again in DA4, they’ll get more of the same.



It was more like they were too ambitious and tried something new without really thinking through what that would add to the franchise. It was poorly handled but not because they thought their fans were dumb idiots or the series was lame and terrible.


“Ambitious”? They played it as safe as they possibly could: they stuck with the Frostbite engine long past the point they knew it wasn’t a good fit; they handed the game off to a tertiary studio with limited experience in the franchise (because all their top people were wrapped up in Anthem and other games); then they ignored that same team telling them the story was leaning too hard on old, stale, colonialist tropes. Nothing about Andromeda was a risk.


Did you actually read anything about its development? The project went off the rails from the start because they wanted to put a greater focus on exploration and tried creating a planet randomization program that would create a near infinite galaxy (they were actually surprised by No Man’s Sky announcement and how it was exploring the same thing as them). That starting decision for development is what ultimately led to every other decision because they used up too much time on an idea that was way to large in scope to implement in a narrative heavy RPG, not leaving them enough time to change course enough to salvage the project.

I normally like taking the piss with Bioware, but a lot of the venom surrounding the Andromeda discourse is just angry yelling with no context or foundation for the explanations for how the game ended up the way it did. The exact same thing happened with Mass Effect 3, a game with problems blown wildly out of proportion by an absurdly spiteful fanbase.


This exactly. Criticism is completely fine and god knows Andromeda deserved it but the tone and amount of hate this game got even before it was officially released was absolutely ridiculous.


The thing with this is that while I can appreciate their attempt to do things like create an infinite universe, Mass Effect is ultimately an RPG series and in reaching for the moon, it felt like they fell dramatically short in every possible way. Maybe Andromeda didn’t deserve the hate it did, but there are plenty of massive fucking holes in the writing–which they were working off of the very flawed premise of exploration for the sake of space-colonialism, an already shitty premise that people tried to warn them off of from the onset–to completely justify what the game did poorly narratively.

Unless we’re just going to pass over the character that just straight deadnames herself right to your face?

Like, if they’d focused on one singular aspect to improve, maybe they would have come out with a solid title, but the end product just had me wishing they hadn’t even bothered.


Oh don’t get me wrong, I generally agree, but when it starts going into implying Bioware doesn’t care about or actively hates their own work or their fan base, I gotta call that out as the ridiculous vile it is.

And I mean, Bioware is the sincere studio! Obsidian is the one that calls you a piece of shit!


Oh for sure! Too bad they made the only good Fallout game :c